Red Balloon Days packages ‘top-shelf experiences’ – more than 1000 – and markets them online. It gives people a memorable time by sending them on anything from an overnight romantic retreat for two, to shark diving at night or a jet fighter flight. Founder Naomi Simson is passionate about giving pleasure and making an impact on organisations large and small. Red Balloon Days now turns over more than $8 million a year and corporations in Australia and New Zealand often reward their staff with a Red Balloon experience.
Having enjoyed a successful marketing career with companies like IBM, Apple computers and former airline Ansett, Naomi knew corporate life well, BUT she wanted a family. How do you combine corporate life and motherhood? Start your own company and work from home!
Naomi admits that building an Internet business was a challenge, as she was ‘clueless’ and had no idea about the online world. They launched the website and waited. People would say ‘what a fabulous idea’ but they weren’t selling anything. Naomi decided to target the corporate world she’d known for most of her working life.
Again people liked the idea but took it no further. She argued with her business partner and husband Peter were about spending money to attract clients. Six months along and with a monthly revenue of only $2000, Naomi wanted to spend $15,000 at a corporate gift show. They argued, but she took the risk, and landed an account which contributes $300,000 a year to their business.
The gamble paid off. Naomi says they probably sold about 300 packages in the first year, but last Christmas they were selling 300 a day.
According to Naomi, it is word of mouth that makes this world go round.
Red Balloon Day creates conversations, especially after a fabulous day out, or in anticipation of one, AND it’s a real conversation generator if the experience is a company award!
NAOMI’S FIVE TIPS FOR SUCCESS
1)Have a clearly defined purpose,know what it is that you are really in business for. For Naomi it’s about giving pleasure – a purpose is very rarely about making money.
2)Know the numbers! Which are the critical numbers to success? Never fear them. Is it call rates, traffic figures, debtor days?
3)Have a communication rhythm – if people in your team know how communication circulates, then they can plan for it. Always have an agenda for a meeting.
4)Make sure everyone in the organisation knows exactly what they’re there to do and has a score card right on their desk to keep them focused.
5)Know the business you are in and have a plan; don’t be swayed from your commitment just because another idea gets presented.
Naomi’s vision for the future is to have 10 per cent of the Australia/New Zealand populations have a Red Balloon Day by 2015. She calls it “a big hairy audacious goal”.